RE THE allegations about grants made by Michael DiBerardinis, head of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, to the Philadelphia Horticultural Society, an organization his wife, Joan Reilly, works for.
Over the last decade, New Kensington Community Development Corp. has been working closely with the society to stabilize vacant land in our area. Since our partnership began, the program has reclaimed more than 65 percent of the neighborhood's 1,100 vacant parcels, planted more than 650 trees and converted 40 parcels into gardens. A Wharton study showed that housing values in the neighborhood increased as a direct result of these efforts. Most important, however, are the results these efforts have had on the community. Neighbors, adults and children, worked together to better their community. This is never a conflict of interest.
Allegations such as these are not only irresponsible and damaging to individuals, but to the programs and organizations that serve the city. We are proud to partner with both PHS and Treevitalize, and hope we have the opportunity to work together in the future to assist neighbors in greening and elevating the quality of life in our community.
Sandy Salzman, Executive Director